The United States National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed a complaint against American Medical Response of Connecticut (AMRC) after the company allegedly fired an employee for making disparaging remarks about her supervisor on Facebook. The employee made remarks about her supervisor on Facebook after the supervisor would not allow a union representative to help her draft a response to a customer’s complaint about her work.
The NLRB complaint alleges that the employee was illegally terminated and that AMRC maintained and enforced an overly broad blogging and Internet posting policy. Provisions in the policy that were singled out as being allegedly unlawful include one that prohibited employees from making disparaging remarks when discussing the company or supervisors and another that prohibited employees from depicting the company in any way over the Internet without company permission.
The U.S. National Labor Relations Act protects the right of employees to discuss working conditions without reprisal from their employers. This is the first time, however, that the NLRB has asserted that criticism of an employer on a social media site is a protected activity. As stated by Lafe Solomon, the NLRB’s Acting General Counsel, “...whether it takes place on Facebook or at the water cooler, it was employees talking jointly about working conditions, in this case about their supervisor, and they have a right to do that.”
A hearing on the case is scheduled for January 25, 2011.
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